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 Building with Nature Guideline > Projects > Adaptive Management - Melbourne Port Extension, AUS

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 Adaptive Management - Melbourne Port Extension, AUS


Location: Melbourne, Australia

Date: 2003 - 2009

Involved parties: Boskalis, Port of Melbourne Corporation

Technology Readiness Level: 9

Environment: Ports & Cities, Estuaries

Keywords: Adaptive Management, Adaptive Monitoring


The Port of Melbourne is the largest port in Australia, managing 37% of all Australian container traffic, with the ambition to increase container handling fourfold from 2 million at present to 8 million in 2035. In order to achieve this expansion, it is necessary to extend the port and deepen the entrance and navigation channels leading to it, thus improving access for container ships with a draft of up to 14 m.

There is also the unique nature in Port Phillip Bay. The bay measures approximately 2,000 km2, has a coastline of 264 km and is home to two marine national parks. From the very start, it was clear that the environmental component of the project was essential, and that many local residents had serious concerns about the impact of the work on biodiversity in the bay. 

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Planning and design

The following steps were taken in order to compose the Supplementary Environmental Effects Statement (SEES). The Commonwealth and State of Victoria legislation and policy provided a foundation for the evaluation framework used to assess the environmental effects of the project. Best practice and the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD), as defined through legislation and policy, have been the key drivers for the SEES investigations. The principles of ecologically sustainable development encompass the precautionary principle, the principle of equity and the principle of conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity.


Assessment guidelines

In order to guide investigations, the SEES assessment guidelines set out evaluation objectives identifying the desired outcome of the project in terms of the relevant ecological, social and economic indicators. These evaluation objectives have been adopted by PoMC with an additional objective focusing on the environmental footprint. These have been translated by PoMC into evaluation criteria to be used in the environmental impact and risk assessment process. The identified criteria link back to relevant legislation and policy. Together the evaluation objectives and associated evaluation criteria provided a qualitative framework to evaluate the project and its effects. This structure is outlined in the yellow area of the flow chart below.

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The final risk assessment of the SEES included the findings of the environmental impact assessments and formed the basis for the environmental monitoring plan (EMP). The EMP is the governance document of the Channel Deepening Project, which applied to all capital works and environmental monitoring programmes. Both the Victorian and Australian Federal Ministers of Environment approved the EMP which detailed the environmental requirements, in particular equipment standards, monitoring programmes, regulatory control, reporting requirements and communication measures. Communication was very important for the success of this project, both internally between Client and contractor and externally with the public.

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Operation and Maintenance

 After project completion, no adaptive management and monitoring was necessary anymore.


Lessons Learned

The main lesson learned from this project are centered around:

  • Alliance contract
  • Risk assessments
  • Work method
  • Turbidity limits
  • Monitoring
  • Communication
  • Adaptive Management Strategies Strategic and Operational Objectives

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